Jacques Barzun, public intellectual, dead at 104Historians in the News
...In a review of Barzun's "From Dawn to Decadance," The Times wrote, "Barzun is impressively learned, conservative and unconventional in many of his judgments.... He offers an admirably coherent and comprehensive portrait of the cultural achievements --'art and thought, manners, morals and religion' -- of what we once confidently called 'Modern,' and more recently and accurately label 'Western' civilization....
"Barzun sees only decadence: the breakdown of a rich tradition that now must somehow be thrown away for something fresh and new to arise. Decadence is not a pejorative for him but a description of this sad and somehow inexorable condition. For, according to Barzun, all the potentialities of Western culture have now been worked out and pushed to such extremes as to defy further elaboration. Only rejection, mockery, caricature remain. Deconstruction on a vast scale everywhere and in all dimensions of consciousness is the wasteland he sees around him, with only a hope of some eventual renaissance, perhaps 300 years hence, when, after centuries of 'deschooling,' he imagines how '[s]ome among the untutored group taught themselves to read, compiled digests, and by adapting great stories and diluting great ideas provided the common people with a culture over and above the televised fare.... This compost of longing, images, and information resembled that which medieval monks, poets and troubadours fashioned out of the Greco-Roman heritage.' "...
comments powered by Disqus
- The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age
- ‘No Vacancies’ for Blacks: How Donald Trump Got His Start, and Was First Accused of Bias
- New Yorker profiles activist who's drawing attention to lynchings
- Wisconsin GOP senator wants to replace history professors with Ken Burns videos
- UT removes Confederate inscription that it previously said would stay
- NYT publishes historians' plea for the revival of political history
- Some Ohio University professors ditch the textbooks, and the prices
- Renowned Israeli Holocaust Historian: ‘If I Were a British Jew, I’d Be Worried’
- Heather Ann Thompson pries loose the long-kept secrets of Attica in her new book
- Lonnie Bunch remembers his first day on the job as director of the new black history museum